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Conrail Convention at Conway

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In the late spring of 1996 the Conrail Technical Society held their annual convention in Pittsburgh PA. The convention had always been a success with the fans and the group had toured many yards for their conventions such as Selkirk and Allentown. For the 1996 convention it was Conway's turn for the yard tour, the Conrail employees put on a great show.

The day started off very early in the morn as the participants were bused to the yard. Before entering the yard for a tour however there was a brief stop just to the west of the yard at a bridge, even though the stop was very short many trains passed in a short period of time showing just what a hot spot the yard is. This is C36-7 6629 and a sister leading  BEPI into Conway.

After the BEPI had cleared this local pulled up to a stop at the bridge. The train is led by B30-7R 2032, the locomotive was rebuilt by GE in 1989 from a U23B. The 2032 also worked for the Monongahela  system before Conrail took it over.

After the 2032 had pulled to a stop one of the pride locomotives of the late Conrail in SD80MAC 4103 leads UDM-63 forward past the bridge, the train will cross over and will continue its run north.

As the UDM-63 is crossing over the yard switcher which is GP38-2 8230 pulls its cut of cars forward. The 8230 is passing the 2032 which is still waiting to leave the yard for its local work. Conway is quite a hot spot, there are 4 trains moving in this picture.

After the 2032 had departed and the 8230 had gone back for more cars another pair of SD80MAC's pulled forward out of the yard, these engines were truly one of a kind as only 30 were built and Conrail owned all 30. The locomotives were successful test beds however for the much more popular SD90MAC, the locomotives need to back up and couple up to their train.

After the engines had coupled on to their train they pulled forward to double their cars. The two SD80MAC's should have no problem in powering this train of empty hoppers back to the mine. The action was really intense outside of the yard but the inner yard awaited.

The first stop for the group when inside the yard was the Hump tower. This is where all the sorting of cars in the yard takes places, computers route each cars onto a certain track and then the tracks are placed on certain trains. Its really a very efficient method of organizing so many cars that pass through Conway each day, the tower also provides a great place for taking elevation shots of the yard.

Here is one of the elevation shots taken from the tower. In the photo a lone hopper has been separated from the rest of the cars and rolls down the hump hill where retarders will slow the car down to 5 MPH and computers will set the switches so the car finds its way to the right track.

Pushing the cars up the hill to the hump is no easy task, Conrail uses its fleet of SD38's for this task. The SD38's all came from Penn Central and they are used for hump duty all over the system from Conway to Allentown and Oak Island. The SD38's are almost always paired with one of Conrail's 53 slug units, the slug's don't have an engine but they do provide tractive effort which helps the SD38's shove the cars up the hill.

One off the hump the cars will find there way into one of the many tracks in the yard. In this view from the hump tower on the eastbound sorting yard, there are hardly any car's in the yard at the time. The probably means that a few trains have just left and that the hump crew has a lot of work to do to fill the tracks back up with cars bound for other destinations on the Conrail system.

With all the cars in the yard Conrail needs to have a lot of locomotives available to power the trains to their destinations. Conway is one of the largest shops on the system performing everything minor to major work and also the FRA inspections. The facility even has its own working turntable, in this view from the hump tower there are quite a few engines waiting to go to work.

Conrail owns many engines but the engines aren't going anywhere if they don't have any fuel. Here is a photo of the massive Conrail fueling rack at Conway as seen from the hump tower. The fueling rack is almost exactly the same one as the fuel rack in Selkirk yard indicating that Conrail used like designs.

The next  stop for the group following the hump tower was the engine terminal. This area is huge with a large roundhouse and large turntable, it is one of the larger service facilities on Conrail. Each facility has its own sign and this was the one at Conway, the facilities are ex PRR.

The facility has lots of tracks for the engines that have already been serviced to wait, just 50 years ago large Pennsy steamers took the place of the workhorse SD40-2's. Probably the best part of the tour of the engine facility was use of the turntable. Its very rare to see a turntable working and even rarer to see a working turntable on a class one railroad.

Here is an example of the turntable in motion, Conrail Sd40-2 6510 takes a ride on the table. The turntable is used more for moving engines to and from the service tracks in the roundhouse than it is used to actually turn the engines. One of the vigilant Conrail works supervises the old worn out SD40-2, the blue on the 6510 has faded after its many years of hard service.

Next to the ready tracks was a line of locomotives that needed to ferried into the shops for work. Some locomotives needed inspections and others needed light work but none in the line needed anything major. The 8207 is a Gp38-2 that is rated at 2000 HP, it is a phase II GP38 and was built in 1978.

The group next ventured inside to see facility first hand, it was an interesting place where important work was done to keep the engines running. This is a photo of a traction motor, this wheel set goes on the locomotive and it provided the power to the rails. It also provides dynamic braking, without traction motor's working at their top shape a locomotive will not go anywhere.

In the back of the diesel shop where more ready tracks for waiting locomotives, sitting on the tracks was seemingly a brand new SD80MAC and some foreign  power from the Union Pacific. The SD80MAC is the Conrail 4113 and the UP SD40-2 is the B3534.

Here is a photo of the two SD40's from out west, one from the Union Pacific and the other from the Chicago Northwestern. The date is June 2, 1996 and in little more than a year the Union Pacific will take control of the CNW and the locomotives will be repainted into the armor yellow of the UP.

Here is a great shot of probably the stars of the show and the weekend, the Conrail SD80MAC's. The SD80MAC's were built in 1996 making the 4113 almost new. The engine was one of the many first for Conrail, it was the first to produce 5000 HP, it was the first on Conrail locomotive to have AC traction and it was also the first to have the whiteface scheme. Although it was one of the last locomotives to be purchased by big blue, it was certainty one of the classiest.

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